CHIVI residents have raised concerns over high water bills being levied by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) despite erratic supplies.
BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
Chivi residents, who requested anonymity, said although Zinwa offered a 50% discount, they were being threatened by debt collectors, and forced to pay cash, while those paying through EcoCash were not given receipts.
“We are forced to pay high estimated water bills, but we only receive water three days per month. Whenever we see water coming out of our taps, we know Zinwa officials will be coming the next day with water bills. We don’t know if EcoCash has ceased to be a legal tender, because Zinwa is refusing to accept Ecocash or if you pay using the mobile money transfer they refuse to give you a receipt,” one resident said.
“The water here is also brownish, so we suspect they are supplying us with raw water meant for industrial purposes. Recently, we were told Zinwa is offering 50% discount to clients, but to our surprise, they are telling us to clear our bills first in order to enjoy the discounts. The other issue is we don’t see the reason why they should engage debt collectors if there is a promotion. As a community, we have mobilised ourselves to take Zinwa head-on.”
Zinwa spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga said the authority was making an effort to bill based on actual consumption and not estimates.
“The authority has its operators on the ground whose duties entail going around taking meter readings from premises. Estimates are only used when a client has a non-functional meter or when operators fail to access the relevant premises,” she said.
“Clients who receive bills based on estimates when they have fully functional meters are encouraged to approach Zinwa and have their matter rectified. Clients are also encouraged to learn to read their meters and to be present when Zinwa staff members take meter readings. This helps minimise disputed bills and allows customers to keep track of their water consumption patterns,” she said.
On the issue of water shortages Munyonga said one of the high-lift pumps had developed a technical fault in the past two weeks, and a new pump had since been installed so normal water supplies should have resumed.
“The authority has been offering discounts to its clients ranging from 15% to 50%, depending on the user category. The discounts were calculated based on the amount one would have paid. If a person paid $100 while owing $200, the relevant discount would be calculated based on the $100 paid. The discounts would be effected as credits into the clients’ accounts,” she said.
“Zinwa has no debt collectors operating in Chivi or any other place in Runde Catchment. The previously engaged debt collectors’ contracts expired and have not been renewed yet.
In the event of Zinwa engaging debt collectors, clients will be duly advised. Any refusal to accept mobile money payments is outside Zinwa policy and clients are encouraged to report such acts to Zinwa,” she added.